Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cars, Guitars, and Children from Mars...

So here's the week that was...

...received a phone call at work. Recognized my wife's cell phone number, thought it odd of her to call the office before my lunch break, and picked it up.

"What's up?"

"The car's dead. I'm at your sister's place, stuck in the driveway."

I grimaced. "Well...I'm at work."

"Considering how I called you there..."

"Okay, well try and start it with me listening."

I heard a clickety-clickety-bzzzz, and nothing more. Then my wife said, "Any ideas?"

"Sounds like a dead battery. Gonna have to call your step dad and have him replace it. I'll pay him back after work."

"Well...I don't have time for this!"

"Would you rather walk?"

"Very funny." Click. I dropped the phone onto its base, tried to refocus on the doldrums of Quality Control. Tried not to think about my book release.

At that moment, in a section of town considered precarious by many, three young kids, the oldest being a day or two shy of four years old, the youngest, a little girl hobbling on knees barely mature enough to support her weight, were spotted walking hand in hand along the sidewalk. Three soggy diapers clinging to their waists and nothing more, they were stumbling barefoot under rainy skies in the direction of a busy intersection. And Children's Services were called...

A few minutes passed, the phone rang again. My wife's number. I released sigh, considered my options, picked it up on the third ring.

"Wait till lunch and I'll see what I can do."

"Shut up and listen! Our social worker called. ...there's three of them! She's not even sure where they live yet! I asked her and she said Mars for all she knew! ...the oldest is still in diapers!"

I held the phone out from ear. "I'm not following and you're giving me a headache. Is the car running yet or not?"

I listened as she caught her breath, no doubt silently counting to ten in order to explain the situation without shouting. Telling herself to be patient, she was speaking to a male after all. Then, "I got a call a minute ago. They picked up three kids walking through town in nothing but diapers. They have no idea where they come from, but they're wanting us to take them in until they figure out what's going on."

My turn for a breath. "Did you say three?"


"Are you kidding me? There is no way..."

"Look, I know. But I really want to do this. The little girl's only like, a year old."

I grew quiet. Turned and looked out my office window. Watched the rain falling like a plague. Imagined walking through it with nothing on. Wondered what the temperature was. Then closed my eyes, cursing under my breath while offering my computer a nod.


Later that evening I watched from the kitchen table as three little people quickly took over my home. Already caring for our own three kids, we'd just added three more. A little boy who they guessed to be four. His younger brother, a possible two year old hiding under a head of bobbing curls the color of straw. And a little girl, one-ish, who'd maybe taken her first steps a week earlier. All of them, now bathed and clothed in hand-me-downs from the basement, screaming and playing and running in circles around the family room.

My wife joined me at the table, a fatigued grin on her face.

"Do we know where they're from yet?" I asked.

"They tracked down the mother. She was passed out on the couch. These guys made it downstairs from a third floor apartment. Decided to go to the store to get some food."

I huffed. "So I take it we can't give 'em back for a while."

Her gaze met mine from across the table. "Thank you for saying yes."

"The oldest one is still pooping in his pants."

"I can fix that."

"It'll be tougher than a car battery."

"It'll be fine."

And it was then, amidst the mayhem of vagabond toddlers from another planet, when my oldest son entered the family room, his acoustic guitar cradled under an arm.

Without a word, he sat down on the floor and began playing. The chorus from "Stairway to Heaven." Nearly the entire scale to Dave Matthews's "Crash," followed by something called Five Finger Death Punch, a name I found disturbing, but a tune worthy of tapping a foot to.

And as he played, the kids quieted down. They stopped running. Stopped screaming. Sat down next to my son. And listened.

The house became a home once again. I offered my son a wink. And my wife, looking ever more like the cat who snagged the canary, leaned toward me and said once again, "It'll be fine."

Thanks for reading...



The Words Crafter said...

You guys are the most amazing people I know of. Wow. And that situation could have ended very tragically. I just don't get people; I really don't.

I hope the car battery is all taken care of, btw. Blessing upon you all!

The Empress said...

What a beautiful story that highlights how incredibly compassionate and selfless human beings can be. You and your family should be commended for your generosity. Those poor kids now stand a decent chance at life.

Anne Gallagher said...

Your posts never fail to make me cry, El. What is it about a big tough guy, writing about kids, huh?

And hey, where's the girl? Is she still with you?

Elliot Grace said...

...good morning guys, and thanks for your comments!
Hey Crafter, they're actually not mis-behaving so far. Happy to report that all four walls of the house are still standing. And yes, battery has been replaced.
Hey Empress, thanks so much for the compliment. My wife deserves the credit, for she's been taking the burden of the workload.
Hey Anne, The Girl remains in limbo, bouncing back and forth between our home and her other foster home. Staying with us permanently would mean a transfer to another school, something she's not fond of. So she's happy and well, but a bit mis-placed at the moment.

Have a great day, and thanks for reading:)


Jules said...

You always know exactly how to make my heart swell up. Your life and the stories you give us are such a god's send.

And the son with the guitar... way cool! :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Starlight said...

It makes me very happy to know that there still are so nice people as you are. And on the other hand it makes me very angry that some people have children despite the lack of responsibility, financal means and psychological stability.
You wrote this piece very well, I like how you combined the story about the car and about children. Beautiful.

Paul Michael Murphy said...

I too love the car trouble. There are problems and then there are PROBLEMS.

Elliot Grace said...

...going on three hours of sleep from a rough night with three screaming kids. Hey Paul, you hit the nail on the head:)

Hey Jules and Starlight, your comments are heartwarming, thanks so much!


Trisha said...

WOW, that is an amazing story. Those poor kids! But your son knew the tricks! Good on him!!

Thank you for stopping by my blog!

Jo Schaffer said...

First of all boo for car trouble. I know that pain.

And the story about the neglected kids is beautiful. We have taken in children as well from time to time. It really is a touching experience-- thanks for sharing.

And thanks for dropping by my blog. (=

The Golden Eagle said...

Similar thing happened to my mom's car recently.

What an amazing story--all around.

Who knew guitar could have that kind of effect? :)

Dyche Designs said...

What a beautiful post, it brought a tear to my eye.

Donna Hole said...

Why do you always insist on making me cry . .

Thank you (and your own family) for caring so much. Good foster homes are hard to find.


Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

WOW. WOW. WOW. Amazing story. You and your wife have such wonderful hearts.

Sherri said...

That sounds like quite the adventure! There are so many kids out there who just need a safe place to grow up in. Good thing there are generous people out there like you and your family!

E.J. Wesley said...

Man, you all are good folks, and from where I come from that's high praise. Kids just need a chance, and your one spark of kindness might be the thing to point them in the right direction for the rest of their lives. Good for you and your family!

Seriously impressed by your son, btw. I didn't take up the guitar until college and I wish every day that I'd started earlier.

When is the official release date of the book? Getting close I'm sure! Let me know via e-mail, etc. and I'll do what I can to get the word out (not that I have any kind of major social influence, but every little bit can help--I think). I've admired your writing via the blog for a long time, and I'm sure the book is going to be worth the read!


Nicki Elson said...

I think God gave you something to take your nervous mind off the release...

So it's out, it's out? I'll be buying my copy soon. :)

Good luck to you and your wonderful family with your new charges.

Ashley Nixon said...

Wow. That's amazing. Good luck! Six crazy! You're a wonderful storyteller.

Elliot Grace said... guys are the best. Thanks so much for reading:)
Hey Trisha, thanks for stopping by, the kids keep me from writing,(not good,) but they're happy, which is the goal after all.
Hey Jo, having read many of your posts, any news of your family's kindness fails to surprise me at all. You guys are too cool:)
Hey Eagle, good to hear from ya! Thanks for stopping by, and I believe I owe you a book ;)
Hey D.D, thanks for your kindness. I'll be sneaking over to your blog shortly.
Hey Donna, as long as those are happy tears, all's well.
Hey Samantha, from reading up on your own adventures, I believe WoW describes your family as well:)
Hey Sherri, your words ring true. Too many troubled kids to count...and to think, they're our future.
Hey E.J, I'm humbled, thanks so much. The book's been released locally for about a week. (Click on the book cover for the link.) Not sure when it's hitting Amazon, but will spread the word when that day comes.
Hey Nicki, my fellow eighties junkie, how ya been? The book's out locally, link's at the top of the page, and will be in touch when it busts out on Amazon and Barnes.

Thanks again guys for stopping by:)


Elliot Grace said...

Hey Ashley, I can remember telling my wife how I only wanted 1 kid, while she wanted a herd. Ha! The joke's on me:)

Thanks for stopping by and your kind thoughts.


Anita said...

You two are awesome! Keep us posted! And good luck with everything.

Cynthia Lee said...

Just read this. Wow. You guys are wonderful and amazing.

Flying high in the sky.... said...

i don't know if i should be more proud of you or your wife... or your son!!! you touced my soul .... i am so so so fortunate i found you ... your wife seems to be an awesomeeeeeeeeeeeeeee person!!!! i am speechless by her gesture... God Bless...

stacey said...

so wonderful to read this post. thanks so much for sharing.

Taffy said...

Amazing story. Thanks for sharing all of your day!

Judy Croome said...

PS Love the new header photo on your blog!

Judy, South Africa

Olivia J. Herrell said...

Wow, El. Just wow. So much happening for you. Congratulations on geting South of Charm out the door. I'm looking forward to getting and reading my own copy. Are you promoting on Facebook? If not, it's a great and friendly place to do that.

And thank you for saying 'yes'. You guys humble me. and that's a good thing.

~ that rebel, Olivia

Adeeva Afsheen said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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